11: The Scheme

11: The Scheme

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas

The Scheme

Sometimes the smallest things take the most room in your heart.

~Winnie the Pooh

“Look what I found!” I exclaimed as I held up a stuffed animal for my sister, Jenny, to see.

She smiled and showed me what was cradled in her hands. It was the exact same Winnie the Pooh that I was clutching. While we were exploring the local Disney Store, we had both selected the same Christmas-themed Winnie the Pooh.

“This is what I want for Christmas,” I declared.

Jenny looked at me. “But that’s what I want for Christmas.”

My eyes narrowed, and my smile disappeared. I hated anything that made us seem like twins. I refused to be seen wearing the same colors, sporting the same jewelry, or playing with the same toys. This was a problem.

I thought about it for a minute. “We could both put it on our Christmas lists and see who gets it.” We both realized this was not the solution. If our parents knew we wanted the same thing, neither of us would get it. Asking Santa seemed to be a long shot because you couldn’t be sure what he would leave under the tree.

“There might be another way,” Jenny suggested.

“What?”

“I get it for you, and you get it for me.”

I thought about it. This would mean not telling our parents that we knew what the other sister was purchasing for our Christmas gift. I was a stickler for the rules, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for such a big scheme. “What if they find out?”

“I won’t tell if you won’t.”

This was it. I had to choose. The bond between a little girl and a stuffed animal is passionate and unbreakable, and I could not be parted from my beloved Winnie the Pooh. His red felt nightshirt and nightcap were too adorable, the green stocking he held was too soft, and the cup of milk in his other paw was too amazingly lifelike. I was enchanted.

“Let’s do it.”

We returned the bears to their display and left the mall with our mother. Our letters to Santa would contain nothing about the bear. We wouldn’t mention our desire to our parents either. Then, on the day we were taken out separately to purchase a Christmas gift for the other sister, we would head to the Disney Store. After wandering around for a bit to make it seem as if we were really considering everything, we would pick out the Winnie the Pooh and declare it was the perfect gift.

After both shopping trips were completed, my parents discussed our purchases. “Did you know that Jenny bought the same thing for Kristine?” Mom asked after Dad told her what I had chosen for Jenny.

“Really? They bought the same thing?” Dad was surprised.

“Yeah. Jenny said it was exactly what Kristine would want.”

“Guess they’ll be in for a surprise on Christmas morning!”

Little did they know what we had been plotting.

“Did you get it?” Jenny asked me when we were alone.

“Yeah. You?”

“Yup, just like we planned.”

“Wow.” I could not believe that we had pulled off the first part of the plan.

“Now all we have to do is wait.”

I shook my head. “I don’t want to wait. Christmas is so far away. I wish we could at least open them on Christmas Eve.” We had always envied the families that opened gifts after church that night instead of waiting until Christmas morning.

“They might let us.” Jenny seemed hopeful.

“Maybe.”

“Let’s both ask.”

Our parents relented and said we could choose one gift to open after we returned from church that night. We had done it. We had successfully kept the secret without looking guilty or suspicious, and we would finally be reunited with our bears.

Of course, Jenny and I knew exactly which gift to choose when the time came. Tearing off the paper, we were delighted to behold the gift we wanted most.

Our parents could not hold back their laughter as they waited for us to realize what had happened.

Cuddling my new bear I said, “Thank you, Jenny.”

“Thank you, Kristine,” Jenny replied.

However, this is when everything fell apart. We were too happy and proud of our scheme to be appropriately shocked that we held the same bear.

“Did you know that you bought each other the same thing?” our dad wanted to know.

Jenny and I looked at each other and giggled. “Yes.” We admitted we had planned the entire thing for months.

Our mother was still suspicious about all the other presents that were under the tree. We often helped our parents wrap gifts and could easily have one more trick up our sleeves. “Did you tell each other everything that you got?”

“No!” Jenny responded.

“We didn’t,” I promised.

“Yeah, okay.” Our mother didn’t quite believe us.

Though the other presents we opened that year were wonderful, nothing was quite as magnificent as our Christmas Winnie the Poohs.

Of course, our big plan was not devious enough to get us into any trouble, though it did take several years before our parents would trust us to know what the other sister would receive without telling her. Gifts were hidden in our house and remained secret until the moment they were opened. To this day, my mother is still nervous about telling me what she’s bought for my sister even though we’ve never done anything like that since.

My sister and I are adults now, and we still have those bears. We’ve always treasured the memory of that Christmas and have told the story many times. To me those bears represent more than a childhood prank; they represent my unbreakable bond with my sister.

~Kristine Eckart

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